THE SEVEN HUNDREDS.
ADJOINING to the two last described hundreds
eastward, lies the district commonly known by the
name of the Seven Hundreds, so connected from their
being comprehended under the jurisdiction of one
court, held within some part of them, and to which the
Whole district is amenable. They have been from antient time part of the possessions of the crown, and were
for a great length of time kept in the king's own hands.
These hundreds were, those of Cranbrooke, Barkley,
Blackborne, Tenterden, Rovenden, Selbrittenden, and
Barnefield, Comprehending the rest of the lath of Scray
remaining undescribed; but Tenterden being in king
Henry VI.'s reign made a corporation and hundred of
itself, and annexed as a limb to the port of Rye, became exempt from the jurisdiction of the court of these
hundreds, and within that of the cinque ports; so that
they are now but six hundreds, though they still retain
their original name of Seven.
To collect the revenues and profits accruing from
them to the crown, the king from time to time appointed a bailiff, who likewise exercised the jurisdiction
of the crown as lord over them, holding his courts regularly for that purpose within the bounds of them; in
which state they continued till the lordship or bailiwick
of them was granted away at times to different persons.
In the 15th of king Charles I.'s reign, John Henden,
esq. had by letters patent a grant of the office of bailiff
of them. In latter times, Sir John Norris, of Hemsted,
had a grant of it, and his widow lady Norris, was the
last who had one of it, the profits being so small as
hardly to answer the trouble of collecting them; and
the office has since been held at pleasure. Thomas
Hallett Hodges is the present bailiff of them.
There is a court leet belonging to these hundreds,
kept at any place within them at the will of the lord;
and a court baron, usually called the three weeks court,
where pleas were held for any sum under forty shillings,
which was usually kept at Cranbrooke. At the former
of these courts, the inhabitants of the hundreds are
bound, on having warning given them, to perform
suit and service, and the constables and other officers
are elected for them.
The lord is entitled to estrays throughout the whole
district, the pound for which is at Wachenden, in Biddenden, by appointment of the bailiff.